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Yvette Diane Clarke (born November 21, 1964) is a Democratic member of the US House of Representatives from New York. Clarke's district was numbered the 11th district from 2007 to 2013, and redistricted as the 9th district in 2013 covering much of central Brooklyn.

Yvette Clarke
Yvette Clarke official photo.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 9th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2013
Preceded by Bob Turner
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 11th district
In office
January 3, 2007 – January 3, 2013
Preceded by Major Owens
Succeeded by Michael Grimm
Member of the New York City Council
from the 40th district
In office
January 1, 2002 – December 31, 2006
Preceded by Una S. T. Clarke
Succeeded by Mathieu Eugene
Personal details
Born Yvette Diane Clarke
(1964-11-21) November 21, 1964 (age 53)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Education Oberlin College
Medgar Evers College

Before entering Congress in 2007, Clarke was a member of the New York City Council, representing the 40th council district in Brooklyn, succeeding her mother, Una S. T. Clarke.[1]


Early life and educationEdit

Clarke was born on November 21, 1964, to Jamaican immigrant parents in Flatbush, Brooklyn, where she still resides.[2][3] She graduated from Edward R. Murrow High School and earned a scholarship to enroll at Oberlin College in Ohio, which she attended from 1982 to 1986.[4] While studying at Oberlin, she spent a summer interning in the Washington, D.C., office of New York congressman Major Owens, where she told Roll Call that she worked on legislative issues involving Caribbean-American trade.[5][6]

Clarke's campaign biography during her first race for Congress indicated that she graduated from Oberlin College. Clarke's claims about her educational background underwent scrutiny when Crain's New York Business and then the Daily News reported that while they could confirm that she attended Oberlin from 1982 to 1986, her college transcripts indicated that she did not graduate.[7] Clarke initially said she thought she had earned sufficient credits to graduate from Oberlin, and then later said she had completed her degree by attending courses at Medgar Evers College. In 2011, Clarke indicated that she planned to finish her degree at Oberlin by completing independent academic projects.[7][8][9]

Early careerEdit

Before entering politics, Clarke worked as a childcare specialist and trained community residents to care for the children of working parents. Later, Clarke served as an assistant to State Senator Velmanette Montgomery and Assemblywoman Barbara Clark, both of Queens. Clarke also worked as director of business development for the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation and was the second director of the Bronx portion of the New York City Empowerment Zone.[10][11]

New York City CouncilEdit

Brooklyn's 40th council district elected Clarke to the New York City Council in 2001. She succeeded her mother, former City Council member Una S. T. Clarke,[12] who held the seat for more than a decade, making theirs the first mother-to-daughter succession in city council.

She cosponsored City Council resolutions that opposed the war in Iraq, criticized the federal USA PATRIOT Act, and called for a national moratorium on the death penalty. She was a frequent critic of the Bush administration's policies, and opposed budget cuts by Bush and the Republican Congress on several programs addressing women's rights and poverty. She later voted against extending provisions of the Patriot Act after the election of President Barack Obama.[13]

  • Committee on Contracts (chair)
    • Committee on Education
    • Committee on Fire & Criminal Justice Services
    • Committee on Health
    • Committee on Land Use
    • Committee on Planning, Dispositions & Concessions
    • Committee on Rules, Privileges & Elections

U.S. House of RepresentativesEdit

Clarke's first official photo

The 9th district subsequently called the 11th in 2003 includes Brownsville, Crown Heights, East Flatbush, Flatbush, Kensington, Midwood, Prospect Heights, Prospect Lefferts Gardens and Park Slope.

Policy positionsEdit


Clarke has said she supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.[14] Some of her stances have subjected her to public criticism by constituents in her district, which is roughly 20% Jewish according to estimates from a 2010 Census.[15][16] In 2010, Clarke signed onto two petitions urging Obama to pressure Israel to resolve the Gaza Blockade, which she later retracted.[17] In 2009, she voted against H.R. 867,[18] which sought to condemn the controversial Goldstone Report[19] commissioned by the United Nations.[20] In 2015 Clarke indicated she would vote for President Obama's JCPOA, known as the Iran nuclear deal, despite appeals from some of her Jewish constituents and local advocacy groups to vote against the deal.[21][22][23][24] In explaining her decision, Clarke said in a statement, "Iran is on the verge of creating a nuclear bomb, right now. The JCPOA provides a pathway that holds great potential to forever change this reality."[25] In 2015, Clarke attended Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu's speech before a joint session of Congress after initially expressing uncertainty.[26]


Clarke has stated that she is pro-choice and during her tenure in the House of Representatives has consistently voted against legislation that would place restrictions on abortion rights, including voting against passage of the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act of 2011, which sought to prohibit federal funds from being allocated to cover abortions.[27]

Her voting record in support of abortion rights has led interest groups such as NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood to give her high ratings (100% each) while her ratings from pro-life organizations like the National Right to Life Committee have been correspondingly low (0%).[28]

Budget, Spending and Tax IssuesEdit

Clarke received a 92% rating from the National Journal for being liberal on economic policy in 2011, while she received a low 15% rating from the National Taxpayers Union for her positions on tax and spending in 2011, and a 2% rating from the Citizens Against Government Waste in 2010.[28] Clarke has consistently opposed legislation which seeks to reduce government spending and cut taxes, including voting against the Job Protection and Recession Prevention Act of 2012 which sought to extend tax cuts established during George W. Bush's administration through the end of 2013.[27]

Environmental PolicyEdit

Clarke received 100 percent ratings from Environment America, the League of Conservation Voters, and the Sierra Club, the latter on her clean water positions, in 2011 while she received a low rating of 14% over the period 2008–11 from the Global Exchange for her loyalty to the finance, insurance, and real estate lobbies.[28]

Clarke has generally opposed legislation which gives priority to economic over conservation interests, such as the Stop the War on Coal Act of 2012 and the Conservation and Economic Growth Act of 2012, while she has supported legislation which increases conservation efforts and government regulation of industry, such as the Offshore Drilling Regulations and Other Energy Law Amendments Act of 2010.[27]

In the mediaEdit

On the Colbert Report, in its "Better Know a District" segment in early September 2012, when Stephen Colbert asked Clarke what she'd have changed back in 1898 (the year Brooklyn merged with New York City) if she could go back in time, Clarke answered the abolition of slavery. Colbert replied, "Slavery…Really? I didn't realize there was slavery in Brooklyn in 1898". (Slavery was abolished in New York state in 1827.[29]) Clarke immediately followed up with, "I'm pretty sure there was" stating the Dutch owned slaves in New York in 1898.[29][29][30][31] The next day, Clarke was unavailable for comment, and her media representative stated the statements were meant in humor.[32]

Committee assignmentsEdit


In April 2007, Clarke was the sole member of Congress to oppose a bill to rename the Ellis Island Library after British-born Bob Hope, saying in a statement, "Bob Hope is a great American and a fantastic human being, [but] I see the museum and all aspects of the island to be greater than any one human being.”[33]

On September 29, 2008, she voted in support of HR 3997, the Emergency Economic Stability Act of 2008. The act failed, 205–228. She wrote legislation written to improve the process of removing the names of individuals who believe they were wrongly identified as a threat when screened against the No Fly List used by the Transportation Security Administration, which passed 413–3 on February 3, 2009.[34] In November 2009 she was one of 54 members of Congress who signed onto a controversial letter to President Obama, urging him to use diplomatic pressure to resolve the blockade affecting Gaza.[35][36] On March 25, 2010, she introduced the International Cybercrime Reporting and Cooperation Act – H.R.4962.[37]

Clarke supported the Prison Ship Martyrs' Monument Preservation Act (H.R. 1501; 113th Congress), a bill that would direct the Secretary of the Interior to study the suitability and feasibility of designating the Prison Ship Martyrs' Monument in Fort Greene Park in the New York City borough of Brooklyn as a unit of the National Park System (NPS).[38] Clarke argued the bill was a good idea because "this monument commemorates not only the sacrifices of soldiers in the Revolutionary War who dedicated themselves to the cause of liberty, but a reminder that even in wartime we must protect basic human rights. These thousands of deaths were an atrocity that should never occur again."[39]

On September 17, 2013, Clarke introduced the Homeland Security Cybersecurity Boots-on-the-Ground Act (H.R. 3107; 113th Congress), a bill that would require the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to undertake several actions designed to improve the readiness and capacity of DHS's cybersecurity workforce.[40][41] DHS would also be required to create a strategy for recruiting and training additional cybersecurity employees.[42]

Caucus membershipsEdit

2016 Presidential ElectionEdit

Clarke supported Hillary Clinton in 2016 and cast a vote for her as a super delegate at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.[46] During Clinton's 2016 campaign, Clarke appeared with Clinton at an event in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, at Medgar Evers College.[47]

Political campaignsEdit

Yvette Clarke (right) with fellow congresswomen Stephanie Tubbs Jones of Ohio (left) and Laura Richardson of California (center).

In 2004, Clarke, then still a member of the New York City Council, made her first run for Congress for the 11th district against incumbent Major Owens, for whom she had interned in college.[48] Clarke's run followed an unsuccessful bid by her mother in 2000 against Owens for the same seat.[49][50] Clarke lost the 2004 Democratic primary against Owens, who won 45.4% of the vote to her 28.9% in a multi-candidate race.[51] Following the 2004 election, Owens indicated his desire to retire from Congress and declined to seek reelection, after which Clarke announced her intention to run again in 2006.[52] Owens would later speak bitterly of Clarke and her mother's successive campaigns against him, calling them "[a] stab in the back."[53][54]


In May 2006, another Caribbean-American candidate, Assemblyman N. Nick Perry, withdrew from the race to succeed Congressman Major Owens, leading some observers to contend that Clarke's chances for winning the race would improve now that another candidate from the same community was no longer competing.

In August 2006, the New York Daily News reported that Clarke had misrepresented her educational background in her campaign literature, which stated that she had graduated from Oberlin College.[55] The paper found that she didn't complete her coursework at Oberlin and had subsequently enrolled at Medgar Evers College, but did not graduate.[4][56] The questions of whether she had graduated and from which college were the subject of controversy during her 2006 campaign,[4][55][56][57][58] with her representative saying she attended Oberlin and finished at Medgar Evers.[55][56] In 2011 another representative for Clarke told Crain's that she had re-enrolled at Oberlin in order to complete the credits necessary for the awarding of her degree.[8]

On September 12, 2006, Clarke won the Democratic nomination with a plurality, 31.20%, of the vote in a four-person primary, defeating then-councilman David Yassky, State Senator Carl Andrews, and Major Owens's son, Christopher Owens. In the general election on November 7, Clarke was elected to the House of Representatives with 89% of the vote against Republican Stephen Finger.[59][60]


Clarke was re-elected on November 4, 2008 by a large margin.


Clarke was reelected on November 2, 2010 by a large margin.


Clarke was reelected in 2012. She had $50,000 in her campaign account before the June primary.[61]


Clarke was reelected with 89.5% of the vote in November 2014, defeating Daniel Cavanagh in the general election.[62]


Clarke ran unopposed in the primaries and defeated Alan Bellone in the November general election with 92.4% of the vote.[63]


On June 26, 2018, Clarke narrowly defeated challenger Adem Bunkeddeko in a two-person primary with 51.9% of the vote.[64]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Brooklyn mother and daughter's political path was a first for city". Retrieved 2018-08-04. 
  2. ^ "Biography - Congresswoman Yvette Clarke". Congresswoman Yvette Clarke. Retrieved 2018-08-04. 
  3. ^ "The Clarke Family". Observer. 2006-12-18. Retrieved 2018-08-04. 
  4. ^ a b c Celeste Katz, New York Daily News, Daily Politics: Yvette's Education Archived January 4, 2014, at the Wayback Machine., August 23, 2006
  5. ^ Gangitano, Alex; Gangitano, Alex (2018-07-20). "Clarke Knows the 'Tricks of the Trade' From Her Internship". Roll Call. Retrieved 2018-08-04. 
  6. ^ "Major Owens dies at 77". October 22, 2013. 
  7. ^ a b Healy, Patrick (August 23, 2006). "Yvette Clarke's Oberlin Education". New York Times. Retrieved September 1, 2015. 
  8. ^ a b Crain's New York Business, Clarke Still Seeking Diploma, March 2, 2011
  9. ^ Moore, Tina (September 5, 2012). "Rep. Yvette Clarke of Brooklyn tells Stephen Colbert the Dutch enslaved blacks in Brooklyn in 1898". New York Daily News. Retrieved September 1, 2015. 
  10. ^ VoteNY, Biography: Yvette D. Clarke, 2012
  11. ^ Hicks, Jonathan P. "In Her Mother's Footsteps, and Now in Shirley Chisholm's, Too". Retrieved 2018-08-04. 
  13. ^ "The U.S. Congress Votes Database". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 2, 2012. 
  14. ^ "Congresswoman Clarke's Statement on H.Res.11 - Congresswoman Yvette Clarke". Congresswoman Yvette Clarke. 2017-01-06. Retrieved 2018-08-12. 
  15. ^ "Yvette Clarke takes Step Against Israel, Again". July 3, 2014. Retrieved August 31, 2015. 
  16. ^ "Jewish Population by Congressional District". Retrieved 2018-08-12. 
  17. ^ Dickter, Adam. "Clarke Gets An Earful On Israel". The Jewish Week. Retrieved August 31, 2015. 
  18. ^ Ileana, Ros-Lehtinen, (2009-11-03). "H.Res.867 - 111th Congress (2009-2010): Calling on the President and the Secretary of State to oppose unequivocally any endorsement or further consideration of the "Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict" in multilateral fora". Retrieved 2018-08-12. 
  19. ^ Bronner, Ethan. "Israel Completing Rebuttal to Goldstone Report". Retrieved 2018-08-12. 
  20. ^ "Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke Votes Against H. Res. 867 - Congresswoman Yvette Clarke". Congresswoman Yvette Clarke. 2010-12-21. Retrieved 2018-08-12. 
  21. ^ Berman, Yackov (July 30, 2015). "An Open Letter to Congresswoman Yvette Clarke". The Huffington Post. Retrieved August 31, 2015. 
  22. ^ "Rep. Clarke Ignores Constituency, Supports Iran Deal". Crown Heights Info. Retrieved August 31, 2015. 
  23. ^ "Locals Reach Out to Rep. Clarke". COLLIVE. August 4, 2015. Retrieved August 31, 2015. 
  24. ^ "Crown Heights Jews Campaign Congresswoman to Block Iran Deal". Arutz Sheva. August 4, 2015. Retrieved August 31, 2015. 
  25. ^ "Congresswoman Clarke's Statement on the Iran Nuclear Agreement - Congresswoman Yvette Clarke". Congresswoman Yvette Clarke. 2015-08-31. Retrieved 2018-08-12. 
  26. ^ Line, Chabad On. "Activists Applaud Yvette Clarke". collive. Retrieved 2018-08-12. 
  27. ^ a b c "Yvette Clarke's Voting Records". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved February 12, 2016. 
  28. ^ a b c "Yvette Clarke's Ratings and Endorsements - The Voter's Self Defense System - Vote Smart". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved February 12, 2016. 
  29. ^ a b c "Brooklyn Democrat Makes Slavery Gaffe On 'The Colbert Report'". September 5, 2012. 
  30. ^ King, James (September 5, 2012). "Congresswoman Yvette Clarke On The 1898 Dutch Enslavement Of Brooklyn (That Never Actually Happened)". 
  31. ^ "Rep. Yvette Clarke of Brooklyn tells Stephen Colbert the Dutch enslaved blacks in Brooklyn in 1898". Daily News. New York. September 5, 2012. 
  32. ^ "Yvette Clarke's Spokeswoman Says Colbert Appearance Was Supposed Be Funny". 
  33. ^ Rizk, Christie (2007-04-14). "No Hope for Yvette". The Brooklyn Paper. Retrieved 2008-11-07. 
  34. ^ Clarke, Yvette (2009-02-04). "Text - H.R.559 - 111th Congress (2009-2010): FAST Redress Act of 2009". Retrieved 2018-08-04. 
  35. ^ "U.S. Lawmakers to Obama: Press Israel to Ease Gaza Siege". Haaretz. 2010. Retrieved 2018-08-04. 
  36. ^ "ZOA Critical Of The 54 Congressmen Who Signed Letter To Obama Blaming Israeli Blockade For Gaza's Problems". Zionist Organization of America. Retrieved 2018-08-04. 
  37. ^ "H.R.4962 – International Cybercrime Reporting and Cooperation Act". Open Congress Organization. March 25, 2010. Archived from the original on December 28, 2010. Retrieved September 10, 2012. 
  38. ^ "H.R. 1501 – Summary". United States Congress. Retrieved May 1, 2014. 
  39. ^ "Congresswoman Clarke Urges Designation Prison Ship Martyrs Monument as a National Monument". Office of Yvette D. Clarke. April 29, 2014. Retrieved May 1, 2014. 
  40. ^ "H.R. 3107 – Summary". United States Congress. Retrieved July 30, 2014. 
  41. ^ "H.R. 3107 – CBO" (PDF). Congressional Budget Office. Retrieved July 30, 2014. 
  42. ^ Medici, Andy (July 29, 2014). "House passes DHS cyber bills". Federal Times. Retrieved July 30, 2014. 
  43. ^ "Membership". Congressional Black Caucus. Retrieved 7 March 2018. 
  44. ^ "Caucus Members". Congressional Progressive Caucus. Retrieved 30 January 2018. 
  45. ^ "Membership". Congressional Arts Caucus. Retrieved 13 March 2018. 
  46. ^ Mali, Meghashyam (15 April 2015). "Hillary racks up endorsements for 2016". 
  47. ^ "Clinton Rocks Crown Heights In Women's Town Hall". Retrieved 2018-08-12. 
  48. ^ "OWENS GETS A WARNING FROM CLARKE". NY Daily News. Retrieved 2018-08-07. 
  49. ^ "Caribbean American Involvement In New York City Politics On The Rise". Queens Chronicle. Retrieved 2018-08-07. 
  50. ^ New York State Board of Elections. "Primary Election Kings 2000" (PDF). 
  51. ^ NYC Board of Elections. "Primary Election Kings" (PDF). Retrieved April 20, 2013. 
  52. ^ Hicks, Jonathan P. "Councilwoman Gains Backing in Congress Race". Retrieved 2018-08-05. 
  53. ^ Bernstein, Adam (October 22, 2013). "Major R. Owens, liberal congressman known as 'Rappin' Rep,' dies at 77". Washington Post. 
  54. ^ 1965-, Wright Austin, Sharon D.,. The Caribbeanization of Black politics : race, group consciousness, and political participation in America. Albany. p. 137. ISBN 9781438468099. OCLC 1019835943. 
  55. ^ a b c New York Observer, Clarke's Diploma, August 23, 2006
  56. ^ a b c "Yvette Clarke's Oberlin Education". New York Times. August 23, 2006. 
  57. ^ Government Printing Office, First-Term Black-American Members of the 110th Congress, 2007, page 1
  58. ^ Stephanie Gaskell, New York Post, Fibbing to a Degree, August 24, 2006
  59. ^
  60. ^
  61. ^ "Marty for Congress? Don't fuggedaboutit!". Crains New York. 
  62. ^ "New York Election Results". Retrieved 2018-07-16. 
  63. ^ "New York U.S. House 9th District Results: Yvette D. Clarke Wins". Retrieved 2018-07-16. 
  64. ^ Almukhtar, Sarah. "New York Primary Election Results". Retrieved 2018-07-16. 

External linksEdit